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The expenses scandal and the politics of electoral reform

By Alan Renwick, Michael Lamb and Berna Numan


The scandal over MPs' expenses that erupted in 2009 was followed by a surge in discussion of electoral reform. A range of reforms to Westminster's existing electoral system are now high on the political agenda. This article examines the extent and the nature of the scandal's impact on the electoral reform debate and draws out comparative implications for the sorts of conditions that can force politicians to accept electoral reforms that they do not want. It finds that the expenses scandal significantly changed debate about some electoral reform topics, but not about others. It proposes three factors likely to increase the impact of scandal in sparking reform: that the scandal is seen as harming ordinary people in their daily lives; that reforms can readily be understood as likely to mitigate the sources of scandal; and that those reforms do not seriously harm politicians' own perceived interests

Publisher: Blackwell
Year: 2011
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